Weis Worries About Washington

Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis met with the media on Tuesday afternoon to discuss this week's opponent, Washington. The Huskies are 0-6 on the season, but they have lost a couple of close games and have threats on both offense and defense.

Typically when a team's starting quarterback goes down with an injury it is the passing game that suffers, but when Washington's Jake Locker broke his thumb it was the Huskies' running attack that needed more attention. Charlie Weis talked about how the struggles that the Huskies have had running the football are different from what Notre Dame has gone through.

"First of all, they had two issues. Number one, they've had a whole bunch of running backs get hurt. But number two, their best runner, one of their best runners was their quarterback who got hurt," said Weis. "For them to be able to make an analysis of their running game, a lot of it had to do with when number 10 went down. So that is a whole separate set of circumstances."

Washington may have finally found a top back in last week's loss to Oregon State though.

"The freshman Terrance Dailey had a big week last week. There's been so many guys banged up, I really hadn't been that familiar with him, but he had a really good game here. He had 16 carries for 102 yards and one for 59 yards," said Weis. "But there's been a bunch of guys banged up. For example, (David) Freeman had a high ankle sprain and he didn't play last week; he might play. (Willie) Griffin was getting a lot of time but he didn't get much time last week, but part of the reason why was because Dailey was having such a big game."

While he will never have the ability that Locker has with his legs, backup quarterback Ronnie Fouch has filled in nicely as a passer.

"They're throwing the ball very well, even after they lost a main guy," said Weis. "They're throwing the ball for over 215 yards a game, and they're doing a nice job on third down. I'd like to say better than us. They're converting about 50 percent on third down, so they've done some nice things there.

"Fouch had to take over. He's a red-shirt freshman, had to take over at quarterback when Locker went down with that thumb injury. He started the last couple games now, and in the last game he started, he threw for 276. One thing from watching him, because you don't have as much information -- even though he did play games last year that we had a chance to go back and see - he does move and slide in the pocket well. And he's tough and will hang in the pocket, and obviously he's got some production, especially this last game."

The Huskies will use up to six guys at receiver led by D'Andre Goodwin, who had five grabs for 136 yards in the loss to the Beavers.

"He's got 32 catches for the year for over 450 and averaging over 14 yards a catch. He has good hands; he goes up and gets the ball. He adjusts well to the ball in the air. He's a nice receiver," said Weis. "(Devin) Aguilar will play over there at his position. He's tough, and he catches the ball in traffic, so you'll see him in there, too. Over at Z, (Alvin) Logan, (Jermaine) Kearse, (Tony) Chidiac, they'll all play."

Washington will also use freshman receiver Jordan Polk in a number of ways.

"When they put Polk in the game, 82, he's their fastest wide receiver, but he's also their gadget guy," Weis said. "They do a lot of stuff and they run fakes with him and fake sweeps with him and reverses. He's got good speed and he's got make-you-miss ability. He's 161 pounds, but he's got that jitterbug mentality where he can make some guys miss. He's tough to bring down."

There could be some shuffling around on the offensive line, but Weis sees one clear thing all of them have in common.

"One thing about their offensive line, and you'll all see it as you're looking at it, they're very, very large people," he said. "They're very, very big. As a matter of fact, they average just under 330 pounds per guy."

The Huskies have some flexibility up front on defense.

"I think the first person you really have to talk about is (Daniel) Te'o-Nesheim, because he is a guy who will play defensive end," Weis said. "They'll list him as a defensive end, but when they go to nickel they put him inside as a three-technique. He's a very disruptive player; they'll slide him inside and out, and he plays hard."

After rotating linebackers throughout the season, the Huskies seemed to find the right combination against Oregon State.

"At linebacker before this past week against Oregon State they had been playing a whole bunch of different guys at linebacker. But this week it looks to me like they settled in because (Donald) Butler had been moving all over the place, but he's settled in at the Sam linebacker in the last game. He tries to play very physical," said Weis. "(Trenton) Tuiasosopo settled in at Mike linebacker, and (Mason) Foster settled in at Will linebacker. He's as productive as anyone they have right there. He will make a whole bunch of plays. But those three guys before had been part of a rotation, but this last game against Oregon State, they played most of the way, the three of them."

But with Notre Dame expected to come out with four and five-wide offensive sets look for Washington to use more nickel. The corners are aggressive while multiple players have worked their ways on the field at safety.

"The two corners are (Quinton) Richardson and (Mesphin) Forrester. Both of these guys were former safeties that they converted to corner, so they're rough-you-up type of guys. They're very physical. The third corner that will show up in the game is (Vonzell) McDowell. They usually play him inside as the nickel when they do go to nickel," said Weis. "Nate Williams is their strong safety, one of their best players. Last week he led the team in tackles, I think he had 11 tackles in the game. And I've seen three different guys at free safety, (Victor) Aiyewa started last week, but I've also seen (Tripper) Johnson play in there, and (Johri) Fogerson I've seen, too. Fogerson I believe last week had a virus, but I'm expecting him to be back here this week."

Weis is also familiar with what Washington will try to do on special teams.

"You've got (Jared) Ballman who place kicks. He really does everything. He punts, kicks off and kicks. Every once in a while they'll put (Ryan) Perkins in there. I think he tried like three field goals as another field goal kicker," he said. "(Danny) Morovick is their long snapper, and when it comes to returner, Polk and Richardson are their primary guys on kickoff return. Aguilar or Goodwin will probably be back, one of those two guys will probably be back as their punt returners."

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